Staunton, July 23 – The USSR Citizens movement which rejects the existence of the Russian Federation and says that the Soviet Union still exists, allowing them to ignore Russian laws, taxes, and communal charges and profit by selling passports, has now taken a dangerous step: it has stripped Vladimir Putin of Soviet citizenship.
That action, certainly intended to attract attention, has: This week, Putin’s Russian Guard along with the FSB, arrested 20 of the USSR Citizens movement in Nizhevartovsk (ura.news/news/1052392247 and mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/back-in-ussr/; for background on the group, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/03/many-russians-nostalgic-for-soviet-past.html).
The followers of this group believe that by claiming Soviet citizenship, they can act as they please with regard to Russian laws, not something Putin wants to encourage, however much he still believes that the disintegration of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical disaster” of the 20th century.
Most of the followers seem less interested in restoring the former empire than in avoiding paying for things they don’t approve of, while most of the leaders of the group seem to be using it as a profit-making enterprise, charging 3,000 rubles (50 US dollars) for each passport after issuing citizenship certificates for 300 (5 US dollars).
The group seems to be growing larger and more active. Not only has it declared Putin and other Russian leaders non-citizens, but some of its branches, independent of the entity’s “government,” the heads of that say, have attacked local officials and sought to take over government offices.
The Russian authorities do seem worried. Prosecutors in the Komi Republic are calling for the Union of Slavic Forces of Russia which in Russian has the acronym USSR to be banned as an extremist organization (komiinform.ru/news/182686), and one USSR citizen at least has been sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment (kommersant.ru/doc/3960410).
Maria Muradova, an expert on extremism at the SOVA Information and Analysis Center, says that the groups are divided among themselves and combine in various ways expressions of desire for the restoration of the Soviet Union and extreme nationalist rhetoric. She tells MBK that she doesn’t see them as a serious threat or anticipates that there will be a broader crackdown.